04/29/17 State Roundup
ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Edwards Group president Rick Baker spoke to the Tampa Bay Tiger Bay Club luncheon last week, promoting Tuesday's election asking voters to let city leaders negotiate a long-term lease for an expanded waterfront stadium if the Tampa Bay Rowdies become a Major League Soccer franchise.
The former mayor would not bite on questions about running for mayor again, but he is receiving loads of encouragement and many of his allies expect he will decide to take on incumbent Rick Kriseman....
04/22/17 State Roundup
Four of the five top contenders for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination spoke to voters in Tampa Bay on Friday. Two stood out: Andrew Gillum, the 37-year-old, largely unknown mayor of Tallahassee, and John Morgan, the 61-year-old, widely known personal injury lawyer from the Orlando area.
Gillum brought Democrats roaring to their feet in Manatee County with a soaring speech about being raised by a hardworking dad who never got past fourth grade, and a mother who never got past high school....
04/21/17 State Roundup
TAMPA — In nearly 90 minutes before an overflow crowd Friday, John Morgan politicized Jesus, sprinkled in assorted profanities, suggested pharmaceutical companies "are in the business of premeditated murder" and talked unapologetically about getting drunk.
By the end of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon, even the few Republicans in the room confessed to being thoroughly charmed by the wealthy, personal injury lawyer with the Kentucky drawl mulling a run for governor....
04/18/17 State Roundup
TAMPA — You don't have to like Donald Trump to acknowledge that the wealthy, unscripted and impulsive president has been a remarkable force in American politics. He defied the doubters, upended the establishment and has energized citizens and journalists alike.
John Morgan, the oft-advertised "For the People" personal injury lawyer, has a similarly common touch, blunt style and populist instincts. That's why so many see Morgan as a potentially game-changing candidate for Florida governor in 2018. He's scheduled to speak to the Tampa Tiger Bay Club on Friday....
04/15/17 State Roundup
A 50-state survey by Morning Consult on the approval ratings of every senator and governor last week offered good news and bad for Sen. Bill Nelson as Florida's top Democrat heads toward an expected 2018 challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Nelson's good news in the January to March survey of 8,793 Florida voters: 53 percent of voters approve of Nelson's performance and 26 percent disapprove, giving him a higher net favorability (net +27) than either Scott (+21) or Sen. Marco Rubio (+14)....
04/08/17 State Roundup
For the first time in decades, Florida is poised to see a crowded, wide-open primary for the gubernatorial nomination. Crazy as it seems, the 2018 contest already is well under way.
More than 440 days before the deadline to qualify, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, the 54-year-old daughter of former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, spent Friday night courting Democrats in Pensacola. On Saturday, members of the Florida College Democrats gathered at USF in Tampa to welcome the three already-announced candidates: Andrew Gillum, 37, the mayor of Tallahassee and a longtime Democratic activist/organizer; Chris King, 38, an Orlando businessman and political newcomer; and Philip Levine, 55, a multimillionaire entrepreneur and mayor of Miami Beach....
03/28/17 State Roundup
Most Florida political junkies assumed Attorney General Pam Bondi would wind up with a plum, high-profile job in the Trump administration, a reward for her early endorsement of the New York billionaire and part-time Floridian. Turns out, however, that the Floridian who so far has landed the most influential administration gig is someone who struggled to get confirmed by fellow Republicans in the Florida Senate....
03/25/17 State Roundup
With so much hostility between Gov. Rick Scott and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, we've heard speculation that Corcoran could be preparing to challenge Scott for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination rather than run for governor as widely assumed. So we turned to nearly 200 savvy Florida political players for our latest Florida Insider Poll.
How do these folks see Corcoran's future? A whopping 74 percent expect the Land O'Lakes Republican to run for governor in 2018, 14 percent expect he will wind up running for attorney general, 6 percent said Senate and 4 percent predicted he won't run for any office....
03/18/17 State Roundup
If you had any doubt about the uncertain and difficult path ahead for the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, just look at how Florida's governor has changed his tune about the topic.
Keep in mind, Rick Scott lives by talking points and disciplined, repetitive messaging, so deviations tend to mean far more with him than most.
The former health care CEO, whose political career started as a critic of health care reform efforts by President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, had been telling reporters since last fall that he was closely advising Donald Trump and his administration about how to fix and improve the health care system. ...
03/11/17 State Roundup
SARASOTA — Steady weekend visits to the "Winter White House" in Palm Beach have solidified President Donald Trump's status as a Floridian. But it's not just Trump who is adding a new dimension to the state's storied political history.
Chief adviser Steve Bannon — the rumpled former executive of Breitbart News, revered as a brilliant strategist and reviled as a xenophobic champion of the extreme right — was shopping for a home in Sarasota last year before Trump enlisted him to fix the campaign....
03/11/17 State Roundup
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's announcement last week that he won't run for governor in 2018 means there is a good chance Florida voters will see a governor's race unlike any other for nearly two decades: one without a Democratic nominee from Tampa Bay.
Not since Jeb Bush easily defeated Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay in 1998 has Florida faced a Tampa Bay-free choice for governor, let alone have Democrats nominated someone from outside the region. In 2002, the Democratic nominee was Bill McBride of Thonotosassa. In 2006, it was Jim Davis of Tampa, followed in 2010 with Alex Sink of Thonotosassa and finally in 2014, Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg....
03/04/17 State Roundup
Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits and cannot seek re-election, but that isn't stopping the biggest special interest groups from continuing to load up his political action committee with huge checks.
A private prison operator, a sugar industry giant and a Clearwater real estate management company with ties to a major Florida insurance company are among those who have given Scott's Let's Get to Work committee at least $100,000 during the first two months of 2017 and at least $250,000 each since the start of 2015....
For a Better Florida: Florida Insider Poll predicts Richard Corcoran to dominate state politics for next two months03/01/17 State Roundup
In any normal year, the governor is the most important elected official in Florida.
This is no normal year.
As we head into another legislative session, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran looms over virtually every other public official in the state.
In a Florida Insider Poll of nearly 180 of the state's most experienced and plugged-in political players, a whopping 71 percent predicted the 51-year-old Land O'Lakes Republican would dominate the session, while only 12 percent touted Gov. Rick Scott and 9 percent Florida Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart....
02/25/17 State Roundup
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis spent about seven hours this month in town hall meetings loaded with poignant and passionate stories from his constituents about their health care struggles. The overwhelming sentiment expressed was that the Affordable Care Act badly needs improvement, but it has been a godsend to many of his constituents who pleaded with him not to repeal it altogether.
"These are real stories. People are really worried. They're genuinely concerned," Bilirakis, 54, told The Buzz after his final listening session at Wesley Chapel High School last week....
02/24/17 State Roundup
ST. PETERSBURG — After more than eight years of marriage, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has filed for divorce.
"I think the world of Carole. She's an amazing person. It just didn't work out for us," the former Florida governor told the Tampa Bay Times. "I wish all the best for her."
Crist, 60, said the divorce should have no impact on his service.
He and Carole, 47, own a Parkshore condo in downtown St. Petersburg, and details about whether he will continue to live there have yet to be worked out....